Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The federal government has paid a total of N9 billion to fourteen insurance companies as group life insurance premium for health workers that are engaged in the fight against the spread COVID-19 pandemic disease in Nigeria.
This was confirmed to THISDAY yesterday by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who said that the federal government considered the contribution of health workers in the current effort to contain the pandemic very critical and is ready to provide for their welfare.
Ngige said: “The federal government has paid N9 billion to 14 insurance companies for group life insurance for all health workers in the federal public health institutions and there is also a top-up for some categories of the health professionals.”
The federal government also said that it has paid N4 billion to health workers in the federal teaching hospitals and federal medical centres in the country as part of the implementation of the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding it entered into with unions in the health sector.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has charged pharmacists in the country to rise to the challenge of ensuring some level of sufficiency in local drug manufacturing.
Ehanire, who spoke at the inauguration of the governing council of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria,(PCN), said the inability of the nation to meet its need of simple things such as face masks, surgical gloves, plaster, cotton bandage, and other related items must be addressed.
“The council should also refocus the various aspects of the profession to meet up with the realities of today. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to fore the vulnerability of the nation as it concern medicines security.
“It is, therefore, paramount that the profession of pharmacy in Nigeria immediately starts to think of new ways of doing things because a situation where the focus is on importation of finished products is clearly not acceptable,” he said.
Ehanire said that strategies must be developed to utilise local resources for the production of pharmaceutical raw materials for both excipients and active pharmaceutical ingredients.
“Our maize, yam, cassava, fruits and many others that go into waste due to poor storage need to be put into meaningful use for the pharmaceutical industry. The nation’s vast petroleum resources need to be also exploited,” he said.